Pins, Wire Harnesses and Plugs

While breadboards and jumper cables are great - for prototyping - when it comes to putting everything together in an actual application - a bunch of jumper wires strung together doesn’t make for a very tidy installation . That can raise hell with what gets plugged into what on the Arduino end - when the other end of all those wires are neatly tucked inside something and out of sight. Guessing which wire goes where on the Arduino end is a recipe for a lot of frustration.

Once I’d worked out what connected to what, in what order based on polarity, written sketches to do “stuff” and used a breadboard to test that the sketch produced the results I wanted - it was time to Tidy Things Up and begin prototyping the Installation. And THAT is where things got messy – and relatively expensive. I needed color coded wire harnesses – with connectors – that were compatible with each other AND the Arduino – and easily identifiable.

So I went looking for small gauge wire harnesses and connector plugs - initially at a hobby shop that sells RC cars, boats, planes and helicopters. Surely they would have what I need – since RC stuff requires connecting servos and batteries and stuff together – in a small space. I found wire harnesses with a male plug on one end and a female plug on the other are available - albeit at a ridiculously high price - $5 or more for a 6" two wire, 7-9 for a 12" three wire .

Seems each manufacturer came up with their own unique male and female plugs, making Mixing & Matching with other manufacturers’ parts tricky – if not downright impossible. Male and female plugs you could slip pins into or that had pins that could plug into one of the wire harness plugs couldn’t be found, or ordered. I did find male and female plug “bodies” – but no pins to put in them – that’d work with the Arduino breadboard or “pin sockets”. I found pins that’d work with the Arduino – but they wouldn’t work with the “plug bodies” I could find. And at 18 cents a pin, building something that MIGHT work could get expensive.

So I went to a large electronics store - Frys. I found DB25, RS232, USB, RJ45 and a host of other connectors - but none that fit the breadboard folks use for the Arduino - or the female “plugs” on the Arduino. I DID find some 7 and 9 wire “ribbon cable” and “crimp on” connectors for ribbon cable that may work – if the TINY gauge wires ribbon cables use will carry the current I need to use.

I live in Silly Cone Valley – aka Silicon Valley – Hi-Tech Central – home of Intel and Cisco and Apple and Hewlett Packard – the birthplace of the Semi Conductor Industry – surely I could find what I need HERE. What I’m finding is that yes, what I’m looking for is probably available – in quantiities of 10,000! I need a couple of Four Wire, four or five Two Wire and couple of Three Wire – with solder connectors to a small printed circuit board – like an Arduino Protype Shield. Ideally, the PCB would be the size of a Boarduino.

Finding wire harnesses and compatible plugs shouldn’t be this difficult. Surely someone here has found a source for wire harnesses and plugs. HELP!

Go here:

Get some wires with pre-crimped terminals, some crimp connector housings, some male or female headers, and if you wish, do like I did and snip the wires in two, and strip one end.

They also have some connectors with two conductors that already have tinned leads:

These ribbon cables from Molex also come in handy if you need a short but permanent connection with a lot of conductors:

Digikey also has a flat flexible ribbon cable called Amp by Tyco:

You can get those with female pin strip connectors on them if you wish. I'm not sure what the metal tipped ends are designed for, but they look like they could be soldered onto a board.

Thanks or the quick respsonse. Going through the links you thoughtfully provided should get me to what I THINK I need. u7ch appreciated.

Advising someone named “Belden” about wiring feels downright weird :wink:

This is definitely one of those cases where surplus is your friend: take advantage of other people’s mistakes to get interconnects cheap.

Some of my favorites for surplus cable assemblies (since I no longer have access to my old haunts in Silicon Valley :’( ) are All Electronics, Goldmine, and BG. They also have all sorts of other goodies you’ll find useful.

Futurlec is also nice for new components (including connectors), but be warned that delivery times can be downright maddening: many people have complained about waits of up to 6 weeks (My theory is that they charge so little for intercontinental shipping because they have a special arrangement with the Thai post office: they fill up standard shipping containers pre-sorted by country/region, and the post office does one huge pickup every few weeks. So whether you get so-so or awful service depends on where luck lands you in the cycle).


Alas, THAT Belden is a DISTANT relative, and I don't think the family owns Belden Manufacturing anymore. I'm from the family branch that went to central and south America to build railroads and later - the Panama Canal.

But my father did correspond with the son of the founder of Belden Manufacturing while doing some geneology work. Turns out the old man had a family bible that took the family back to England - in 1540. Seems we, and probably half of all folks whose family go back to England around that time - are descendents of illigitimate offspring of a king or lord.

Went to the sites you provided links for - and spent an hour or two roaming around them. I can now see that merely acquiring a $30 Arduino is just the very tip of a very large iceberg.

So much to learn - so many options - a few hurdles - but so many possibilities.

Now if I can just find the Surplus Electronics Parts mecca that surely is somewhere here in Silicone Valley . . .

Now if I can just find the Surplus Electronics Parts mecca that surely is somewhere here in Silicone Valley . . .

A quick google of "silicon valley electronics surplus" turned up these links:

Good luck in your search!